USCPR Deputy Director Ramah Kudaimi is quoted in a feature in +972 Magazine about the response of Palestinian rights organizations in the U.S. to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“…Despite the pandemic’s opening of uncharted territory, many are finding that it has also exposed, in laser-like fashion, existing structural oppressions on a global scale. This exposure has in turn served to reinforce, rather than crowd out, the messages of progressive movements worldwide — and Palestine advocacy groups are no exception.
Ramah Kudaimi, deputy director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR), a coalition of groups that seeks to advance Palestinian rights through changes in U.S. policy, strikes a similar tone. In her eyes, the uneven impact of COVID-19 along racial and economic lines is opening up broader conversations about prioritizing resources, especially when their misallocation is contributing to oppression. ‘We need to think through where we are investing our resources and where we need to divest from so we can invest in things like education and healthcare and ventilators and nurses,’ Kudaimi says.
In this vein, Palestine rights advocates have been highlighting mass incarceration as a key focus area during the pandemic.
The USCPR is similarly emphasizing the role that prisons play in COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups in both countries. Like JVP, the USCPR is emphasizing its support of H.R. 2407, a bill introduced in 2019 by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn) that seeks to ban the use of U.S. military funds to imprison, interrogate, or abuse Palestinian children in the occupied territories. ‘Whether you’re organizing on behalf of Palestinian children in Israeli prisons or prisoners here in the U.S., the message should be freedom for all,’ Kudaimi says.
Kudaimi, though, cautions against letting the ‘false dichotomy’ between domestic and international issues slip by unchallenged. ‘It doesn’t matter whether it’s militarization of local police forces or bombing campaigns abroad — it’s the same forces of racism and imperialism’ at work, she says.
To this end, the USCPR has put together a ‘toolkit’ for organizing under COVID-19, which interlinks Palestine with issues in the United States such as migrant justice, anti-Asian racism, and support for caregivers. ‘We’re bringing it all together to give people ideas on how to continue their activism for Palestinian rights in a moment that is forcing people to rethink how they do activism in general,’ explains Kudaimi.